Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Season in Torajaland

I didn't think coming to Indonesia, the largest Islamic country in the world would mean learning new Christmas traditions.  But arriving in Tana Toraja in Central Sulawesi, I could tell my expectations were wrong.  The drive up the main road was lined with Christian churches and I arrived into the main town, Rantepao, in the dark greeted by the colors of blinking Christmas lights everywhere which made it clear that this area celebrated Christmas in a big way.

This meant Christmas Carols playing in every store and restaurant and Christmas trees decorated with big puff of white stuff to simulate snow, something they definitely never get in this part of the world.

It meant the constant crackling of fireworks which apparently are let off every night of December.  I decided to partake is this tradition and bought a bunch of different explosives and set them off to the thrill and entertainment of a whole bunch of kids.

It meant attending a singing competition for the area school kids where everyone sang "Oh Holy Night" to a table of judges dressed to the nines in American Idol fashion.

It meant walking into a local restaurant that was packed with people and being handed a plate for the free Christmas buffet.  Unfortunately I missed the earlier entertainment but the festive spirit was still in the air.

It meant attending a candlelight service at the church across from my hotel and belting out the holiday favorites including "Silent Night" in Bahasa which I read from the big projections on the wall of the church.

And mostly it meant new interesting experiences and lots of fun!

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